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Evolution and the Bible

Evolution and the Bible

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Published by Michael Schuyler
Manuscript by my grandfather, Dr. Elum Mizell Russell, written circa 1930.
Manuscript by my grandfather, Dr. Elum Mizell Russell, written circa 1930.

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Published by: Michael Schuyler on Mar 29, 2007
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In closing this discussion of the most vital subject that man has ever
contemplated, it is my sincere desire to express, very frankly, that nothing has
been written from any feeling of disrespect for the opinions of those numberless
thousands who have been followers of the several systems of religion that have
prevailed, at one time or another, since the dawn of history. And if there were
systems prior to recorded history which are not known to us to-day—I would say
all honor to those who worshiped at such shrines—All these were following the
best light they had known. It would not only be unkind and out of place to criticize
them harshly, it would be downright sinful. Their labors and experiences, all the
way down through the various dynasties of mythologies or theologies, are the
sign-posts to direct our compass. It is not trite to say they were our school-
masters to point the way to the higher plain of our time. If someone to-day should
claim that a special god made his home at the river’s source, and caused great
floods when he was offended, but nice calm and clear water to flow when his
wrath was appeased, we would not only criticize, we would adjudge him insane.
Or if it were claimed that a whole colony of Gods were living in luxury and
lasciviousness atop one of our beautiful mountains, whence they would influence
the people according to their varying moods, no well-balanced minds would even
turn to investigate. The idea would be frowned upon by small children, even. The
human souls who did accept these, now ridiculous, ideas were honestly groping
along in very dim light. Much later there was one God. While he still manifested
himself first in the mountains, he represented a great improvement over all
previous gods, but he was still created after the image and likeness of man. But
in this God of Moses we can begin to see some of the grandeur and majesty that
belong to the Supreme Spirit of the universe—a noble God in many respects.
Much was attributed to Him, however, that was as puerile and unbelievably
ridiculous as anything credited to His predecessors. This God is pretty fully
described in our Old Testament, and with still some important embellishments he
carries over into our New Theology—the greatest and best that has yet been
promulgated among men. This same God, stripped of all the superstitions that
have marred His majesty and perfection, evolves into the God that enlightened
souls now accept as the Absolute—The God of power, love and justice, whose
law is the life of all things, but who speaks to man only in natural language. In
this we are able to trace the evolution of the human concept of the supreme
power that has been reveled through the observation of nature’s manifestations,
in so many wonderful ways, all about him, that first set man to thinking of some
great power which was unfolding itself in such inexplicable splendor. An effort to
portray man’s conception of this force, has given rise to all the mythologies and
Theologies that have marked man’s progress. Imagine the fear and trembling
that came to early man made such incomprehensible, and to him, supernatural
occurrences as the lightning and thunder of a major electrical storm—the
greatness and regularity of the Great lights, the sun and moon. After his curiosity
became sufficiently aroused, follow him in his study of the stars—no wonder that

Page: 70

he deified them, and that he would, almost naturally, turn the sun, which followed
a fixed schedule across the heavens every day, into a golden chariot, exactly
suited for a carriage in which the greatest of all personages might travel while he
made his inspections of the earth and stars.
But he most enthralling of all the wonders of this world is the advancement
of the high place that we humans occupy to-day. It is impossible to point out the
spot upon the history record that marks the exact beginning of many of our
greatest developments—it is easy to contrast the present with some particular
date in the past, but the onward movement has been so gradual that it seems
like it was regulated by some great supervisor—Indeed, that is just the
explanation—The processes of evolution have been always operated under the
supervision of the perfect law of God. It has brought us to this place where the
average man is not satisfied with the explanation of important things, and
happenings, that were given as final to our fathers. The old portrayals, however
sacred they may once have been, are no longer accepted as truth. The modern
mind will refuse to subscribe to miracles or dreams (and which, probably, never
happened) as conclusive foundation for their most profound convictions. And, to-
date, we have, in all our systems of popular theologies, no basis for the hope of
immortality except which rests, solely upon such predicates.
Evolution, in its unremitting processes, has delivered the human family to
this state of excellence, that it is now an opportune time to begin the
establishment of a system of theology that will not offend the power of reason
and analysis. Which will not be offensive even to the God of All Truth. What is
sought here is not a return to Paganism, as critics will cry out, nor is it a
materialism, but the very highest type of exaltation of the spiritual—a spiritual
concept that comes from the universal and immutable laws of the Creator as they
are interpreted in what He has made and set before us for our guidance. The
world seems ripe for the reception of a perfectly rational system of religion. It is
already impossible to hold the scientific mind to the old dogmas. This does not
mean that they have withdrawn their support from the organized effort to uphold
the best we have in moral and spiritual uplift, but it does mean that they are
forced to reject the bases of our established faiths, and, it is too true that great
numbers of our highest type of minds have actually scoffed at our best offerings
of Theology. They have done so for the reason that there has been, hitherto, no
rational set-up. Education has been greatly hampered, uncertainty is rampant,
good men and, otherwise, useful men have tried to find solace in atheism,
churches divided into modernists and fundamentalists, and a very general unrest
—all these things, and much more that might be enumerated, because there has
been so great a change in our ways of thought.
It would be an easy matter for the present generation to allow such things
to pass into forgetful oblivion, but for the fact that all men are, inherently,
religious. The Creator has so decreed it in the constitution of complex man. The
embryonic spirit within man necessitates an environment that includes a
reverence for, and devotion to, the idea of an existence of still greater excellence.
Man can not dismiss this ideal. It is a part of his intellectual composition. And, as
the human animal continues to evolve the ability to understand the cause of

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natural phenomena, he must, of a necessity, look for a religion that bears the
mark of reason. One that will fit, without clash, into the universal picture. It,
therefore, seems futile to continue the promulgation of out-worn theologies that
retain, as their very foundation the unbelievable miracles, and the persecutions,
tortures and ignominious executions of gods, even the one who created all
things. It offends human reason to contend that a human child can be born
without a human father—many of the deities of human creation had such
beginnings. It is no less extravagant to claim that the God, creator of everything
that was made, was also gestated within a virgin womb, and except for the
absence of a human father, was born, grew to manhood as men do, with human
appetites and general characteristics, and was persecuted and finally executed
for heresy because he literally gave his life in an effort to improve the, then,
orthodox theology. Similar fate has been meted out to many another who
persisted in an effort to persuade men to change their orthodoxy to a higher and
better system.

While I anticipate a certain kind of persecution following any publication of
this effort of mine, it is not to be expected that I shall be literally crucified or burnt
at the stake. The environment is very different now from any that has ever been
in the past. We are about ready for the reign of Reason, in whose dynasty
conclusions will be reached by logical deduction. We shall no more accept faith
in immortality because we are told that in the remote history of man, human
bodies were miraculously raised from the dead, but because we shall be able to
see that immortality is a natural consequence—that the great drama of life would
be incomplete without it. Our sacrifices, and anxieties consequent upon
incentives and ambitions toward righteousness and purity would be futile and
empty dreams, without hope of any goal, if there shall be no immortality.
The question will arise in the analytical mind—is this projection of
evolution into the future demonstrable?—A perfectly legitimate interrogatory. I
would reply that many logical deductions have lead to reasonable conclusions
which extended into unexplored regions. Two of the planets in our solar system
of worlds have been located in such, hitherto, unexplored regions, by the process
of deduction, based on specific behavior of the known material (other planets). It
is just as logical to locate a spiritual kingdom by logical deduction, beginning with
the well-known behavior in the other kingdoms of nature. If the existence of
another planet was assured because a known planet leaned toward it, when in
certain positions of its known orbit, why not apply the same reasoning to the
leanings of the highest type of life, known, toward another form of life whose
twilight is but dimly visible, but whose attraction is felt and registered in the
human aspirations? The human, with all its excellence over more primitive life,
has evolved into a transitional sphere, where, now, it is more than a portion of the
animal kingdom—it is the connecting link between the animal and the spiritual—
Man is living in the mingling glow of two twilights, neither, nor even both of which,
furnishes sufficient illumination to make everything clearly visible. When such
glorified light is reached, there will remain no need for further deductions. There
will be no place for further research and analysis—we can see, by that eternal
light, the details of a brand new environment. When man first felt the urge to

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press on to greater light, he started his journey toward a life that was far superior
to the animal, and in him was begotten a new creature, which by its own cravings
has assisted in steering his craft over this uncharted sea of the human cycle.
Man, in the purely scientific field, has deduced the staggering picture of
the structure of the atom. In one atom, he concludes, to the satisfaction of all, are
many bodies, moving at least as fast as light and electricity can travel (more than
seven times around the earth in a second), and each keeping its own orbit, which
is as far from the orbits of its neighboring bodies, according to size, as the
distance separating the planets in our own solar system,--All this by projection of
the known into the realm of the unknown. The scientists who announced this
marvel of nature, had never magnified the atom, itself, to the point of visibility,
much less to see the galaxy of worlds that were spinning around within its
interior, and, yet, this is accepted as demonstrable.
It is easier to observe the deflections of our compass, caused by the pull
of the spiritual world upon the human world, than it was to catch the deviations in
the behavior if a solar planet by the pull of an undiscovered planet. It is, likewise,
easier to, definitely, chart the activities of an unborn soul with the human
incubator, than to portray the internal operations of that infinitesimal atomic
universe.

Yes, the spirit-kingdom is a demonstrable reality, and the persistence of
evolution is the instrument, employed by the Architect of the Universe in its
creation, after the fashion of the creation of all the other institutions of nature—
The same, unchangeable laws and plans projected from life to life, and from
Kingdom to Kingdom.

It has been my purpose, in the foregoing discussion, to portray, to the
utmost of my ability as an artist, a basis for the ever-present hope of immortality
which shall be freed from every vestige of superstition, and from any coloring by
the injection of the miraculous or supernatural, which have encumbered this
beautiful outlook of the human soul since its first annunciation. I believe I have
succeeded in leaving a rough sketch of the picture, with enough outlines that it is
comprehensible to the average mentality. If so, it sets up a foundation for a more
perfect theology. When we reach the answer to the possibility of eternal life, we
have, at once, the climax of all theologies. There is left no place for cavil over the
dead or dying dogmas of the past. The all-important thing, now, is to inform
ourselves as to nature’s code to be invoked for the best accomplishments in
nurturing and directing the spiritual embryo--spiritual eugenics—that it may be
better born—strong enough to live in its newly-acquired environment. No small
task. The high-pressure potentialities of all our pulpil orators may be useful in the
propagation of new emphasis upon righteousness—not sanctimoniousness—
action, intelligent and effective living—Not how to die happy—that will be too late
—but how to live through this twilight zone, for the gestation of a better soul. This
topic, by its very nature must, interest itself in every human activity. It must
permeate business and governments. Every human being, whether of his own
wish or otherwise, is big brother to a soul which depends upon him for a good
home. It being already able to help, materially, in the life-long job, by crying out,
as it were, for a life of prudence and justice—temperance and tranquility.

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I invite careful consideration and constructive criticism, but I shall continue
to hope that no one shall call me an atheist nor denounce me as a pagan. I am
sincere in my acknowledgement of the Supreme God, without whom there is
complete oblivion—the stillness of nothingness—a state, wholly impossible in
human imagination—I am not paganistic (however, this word is flexible enough
that anybody may splash it into the face of everybody else who disagrees with
his pet theory)

If I have arrested the attention of young folks enough to inspire them to
drop the anticipation of late reformation,, with the idea that it is “just as good,”
and, thereby, impress upon them the supreme importance of “faithful continuance
in well-doing.” I shall be very happy indeed. There is, probably, little hope in
changing the tenure of those who have grown old, and are fortified, in what “was
good enough for Paul and Silas, and it’s good enough for me” idea.
I would contend that immortality by the natural process of evolution
constitutes an important contribution to science, since, without a definite
destination, science, hitherto, has lacked that inspiring interest which is
dependent upon some desirable goal—A climax which fixes more values to
research than has heretofore existed. Until the recognition of what we are
pleased to call spontaneous evolution of life, science was short at both ends. And
it remains deficient, in having no desirable destination, unless and until it is
extended into another and more sublime kingdom, which is as natural and logical
as the baser kingdoms of the vegetable and the animal. It should not be difficult
for the scientific mind to accept this new idea, for it must reflect beautiful
illumination upon the motives and operations of evolution in the innumerable
mutations, already demonstrated, and which must, of necessity, have pointed to
something more valuable than merely a better animal, or a more brilliant coloring
of the rose. Furthermore, it will beget no embarrassment for the scientist, but,
rather, will set the seal of complete approval upon the great accomplishment he
has consummated in his research after the intricacies of nature’s well-laid plans.
Without just such untiring investigations of scientific minds, we should remain
impotent in the establishment of any system of religious philosophy superior to
those which have depended, for their support, upon superstition and
unreasonable claims of miraculous personal experiences, which are now
outlawed in the logical conception of the great God of the Universe.
And, too, I am sincere in my conviction that we have a very real
contribution to Theology. Or if the term theology is objectionable in this
connection, we may refer to the same picture as “a system of religion. It obviates
the necessity of linking the faiths and hopes of the religionist to a crude and
poorly-established series of miraculous and unbelievable happenings in some
remote and badly disconnected history, the earliest records of which were made
a good many years after they are claimed to have transpired. Even, them, the
authenticity of the records is seriously questioned by those friendly to the
product. A reasonable doubt, continues, as to whether any of the four canonical
records of the great awakening in Judea and Galilee, ushered in with many
thrilling miracles, was recorded by eye-witnesses or by understudies who had
heard the stories from their principles—years before.

Page: 74

I freely agree with the highly intelligent pronouncements of modern
ministers, who, to a considerable degree, minimize the original settings of the
Christian system, contending that the virgin birth and the death of God may be
deleted and still have a great religion. But the fact remains that with these
deletions they have nothing to tie to more than a beautiful system of morals with
no promise of immortality. The Christian system cannot dismiss the atonement
made by the dying God, and maintain the hope of a life after this earthly
existence fails, unless something is adopted to bridge this chasm. If the
evolutional bridge, herein proposed, is accepted it would fit nicely into the
modern scheme, except that it would displace, not only the miracles of the
Judean period, more crowded with the supernatural than any other generation,
but it would automatically remove, for all time, every link in the theological chain
which supports the orthodox contentions. The reason for saying it would fit the
modern sermon is that the modern preachment is so nearly nothing but a moral
lecture on righteousness. And that same moral teaching would, logically, become
the proper exhortation in the evolutional conception. The very definite differences
seen in the modern sermon in Christendom, when compared to what most of us
elders can remember, is a beautiful exhibition of the work of evolution—the
changes wrought in religious thought since science came into her own, has
evolved an environment which is, soon, to compel a general revision of the
religious set-up. Until very recently religionists bitterly opposed every scientific
advance which, by its very nature, cast any shadow of doubt upon the bulwarks
of orthodoxy—Science has won every struggle, and the highest type of practice
by the, once, orthodox has been to make some shift in position toward a more
intelligent exposition—This is as it should be, and the noble moves on the part of
religious leaders, have made it possible now to contemplate, together, a more
perfect system, exactly in accord with the advance in scientific thinking. And,
also, so clean and pure, in that it is limited only by the unchangeable laws of
God, rather than made to fit any bewildering claims of folk-lore manufacture.
I submit this picture of “Immortality by Evolution” for the consideration of
all who are interested in this, the consummate goal of human hopes and
anticipations—the pearl of transcendent beauty.—The end to be sought above
every other human ambition, in the sincerest hope that it may meet with
favorable reception. And with the further hope that any faults or short-comings in
this brief sketch may be corrected, and the beauties of its adaptation be amplified
to the fullest, by sincere minds of more and wider information that I profess. And I
should like to emphasize my highest tribute to all those who during nineteen
centuries have had part in the evolution of the crowning system among the
religions of the past—Christianity. Because I am of the opinion that it should now
be supplanted by something better, just as it supplanted its own predecessors, is
not to be interpreted to mean that I would shrink from its praise—It has been the
best that man has ever devised throughout all time down to the present.
Everything created by the process of evolution, fill their mission, become
outmoded and decline to be followed by something else which is more adaptable
to the changed environment.

Page: 75

So, for the present, at least, I give you this little volume as my contribution
to science, with a final exhortation to all to be watchful of every step in life, as we
pass this way but once. Therefore we shall remain unable to return, even one
step, to erase a blunder.

(ed. Note: The tablet pages end here with page 76, i.e.: 76 pages of written manuscript,
not the previous typed pages. This would appear to be the end of the manuscript itself but for two
more pages, numbered themselves 1 and 2 on smaller paper, which give a more generalized
conclusion. As these pages are somewhat repetitive of earlier material, I am not altogether
certain which is the “real” end here. The next two pages may be an after-thought or an alternative
ending. It is impossible to tell by the numbering scheme.)

By this conception of the completeness and continuity of God’s creation
by the operation of Nature’s plan of Evolution in all things—kingdom after
kingdom, from the chaotic cosmos to the glorified spiritual—we are enabled to
dismiss forever the powerful rule and reign of Mythology, which, while robed in
ancient and medieval magnificence, has served, not too well, but too long as the
director of humanity’s highest hopes. It assures a logical and dependable
foundation for our further advancement, and removes the unbelievable and
uncertain support of sporadic miracles as a basis for faith.
Come, let us reason together. Let us acquit ourselves like men. Let us
inaugurate a new era of religious thought, in which god remains unchangeable,
and his laws immutable. Let us read his will in that which we know He has
revealed in what He has created and set before our eyes. Let us contemplate the
naturalness of the spiritual, and observe the continuous application of the same
motif through it all. Let us, also, rejoice in the reasonableness of immortality as a
natural goal, and let us render reverential thanks to Almighty God for the wisdom
and the beauty displayed in all his revelations to us through nature’s
manifestations.—Then, there shall remain no place for the many hundreds of
religious sects, each supporting its schismic dogmas by its own favorite mythical
pronouncements of the supernatural and miraculous revelations, in some remote
past, to a favored few, but all may read the same “Word of God” in the things
which he has made, and all can agree that all human creatures are members of
the same family, worshiping the same God. Why not experience that fond hope
of the soul: “Peace on earth, good will among men” which must become more
easily accessible when the source of the most irreconcilable of all differences
shall have been entombed along with the dying gods of superstition and
credulity?

Page: 76

The Outer-most House

We need another and a wiser a perhaps more mystical concept of
animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in
civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees
thereby a feather magnified and the whole image is distortion. We patronize them
for their incompleteness, for their having taken a form so far below ourselves.
And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.
In a world older and more complete than ours the move finished and complete,
gifted with extensions of their senses we have lost or never attained, living by
voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they
are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow
prisoners in the splendor and travail of earth.

(ed. Note: This page was at the end of the manuscript on Evolution, typed in upper case.)

Page: 77

Elum M. Russell, about 1941

Page: 78

Elum M. Russell, date unknown

Page: 79

Lucy Hart Russell and Elum Mizell Russell, about 1900.

Page: 80

Advertising flyer

Page: 81

A page from the typed portion of the manuscript.

Page: 82

Several pages were written on hotel letterhead

Page: 83

Last page of the written manuscript

Page: 84

The tablet used for the bulk of the written manuscript.

Page: 85

Page: 86

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